Page last updated at 11:49 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 12:49 UK

Bluewater bomb threat man jailed

Bluewater Shopping Centre
Saeed Ghafoor told officers he thought Bluewater was in Exeter

A man has been jailed for a year for threatening to blow up the giant Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

Saeed Ghafoor of Southampton, said he was going to bomb the complex using limousines with gas canister explosives, the Old Bailey heard.

The former teacher made the threat to a prison officer at Haverigg jail in Cumbria but later said he thought the shopping centre was in Exeter.

Ghafoor pleaded guilty last month to threatening to cause criminal damage.

The Bluewater centre was the target for a gang of terrorists led by Omar Khyam, who were jailed for a fertiliser bomb plot last year.

Ghafoor, 33, was serving a 12-month sentence imposed by Southampton Crown Court in January for threats to kill his sister and assault, when he made the threat.

There is no evidence to show there was any intent, means or know-how to carry out this threat
Defence counsel

After being released on licence in March, he was arrested and taken to Carlisle police station, where he was questioned and charged.

Prosecutor Pierce Arnold said Ghafoor's licence had been revoked.

Kate Cornell, defending, said: "It is an offence purely of words. There is no evidence to show there was any intent, means or know-how to carry out this threat.

"If he had intended to carry it out, he would not have told the prison officer."

Mr Justice Calvert-Smith told Ghafoor: "No reason has been advanced by you as to why you behaved in this extraordinary way.

"Whether it was a desire simply to seek attention or a plan in your mind to do something dreadful, the court will never know."

The court had previously heard that the first prison officer he spoke to formed the impression that Ghafoor was a "fantasist" but took the threat seriously.

Senior prison officer Dawn Pugh then went to see him and he told her: "I am planning to bomb Bluewater shopping centre in Exeter."

Another prison officer had pointed out that Bluewater was in Kent. Ghafoor told him: "The plan is not finalised yet."

He said he was protesting at the involvement of British and American troops in Afghanistan.

He was seen by the prison imam, who formed the impression that Ghafoor was susceptible to brainwashing.

Man admits Bluewater bomb threat
23 May 08 |  England

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific